Thursday, April 12, 2012


Typing "Celebration!" makes me think of that creepy town in Florida, but this post is all about birthdays and festivals that happened way back at the end of February. 

The first few photos are of the start of the Bassari people's Chameleon Festival, a week-long dance party that kicks of in the afternoon, goes late into the night. I hear it involves some pretty racy outfits toward the end of the festival, but I had to head out to Kedougou, so I didn't get to hang around and watch, even though my host father encouraged me to, saying "You're young, you can stay up late! I went to the Bassari parties when I was young, but now I'm older and have many responsibilities." 

Anyway, I gave my camera to my host brother Amadou, and he took a bunch of photos, including these:

Then we all got together at a local campement for Jackie's birthday. I made her a card, Jubal drew her a picture, and Tatiana got her some palm wine from the Bassaris. (I am not a huge fan of palm wine, it's sweet, slightly foamy, in a fermented-tasting yeasty way, and it doesn't help that it's usually room temperature. And room temperature can be pretty warm.)

A few days later (after a ridiculous, fly-ridden trip in to Kedougou) we came in to the regional house for meetings and then had a big Mexican-ish dinner to celebrate Jackie and C.J.'s birthdays. Meera and Meagan cooked up tortilla and beans, people lit candles (since we all conveniently came in right as a 3-day power outage struck), and Jess A., Jackie, and Meagan posed in front of the lovely table they'd laid out.

The food was delicious and, thanks to the blackout, the ambiance was all candle-lit and sophisticated. Or, as sophisticated as sweaty people in headlamps eating out of plastic bowls can possibly get.

After dinner it was time to decorate the amazing cake that Meera had baked. I made the frosting, but the actual icing of the cake was a team effort.

This has nothing to do with anything in Senegal, we just thought it was really funny.

In any case, the cake turned out to be really pretty (for rural sub-Saharan Africa during a blackout) and tasted fantastic (for anywhere) and a good time was had by all. 

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